by Christine Reeves
The moment we hit the dirt road, my windows rolled down, and we were able to touch the forage on the side of the road as we passed. I knew we were close to arriving at the red cottage. The tingles in my toes, my heart skipping a beat, my breath held and then released. If you recall watching a balloon filled with helium fly out from your hand, going straight up in the air, that was me ready to fly out of my seat in anticipation.
Upon arrival at the red cottage, my dad could not stop the car fast enough; before we could run out the door to look at the lake.
The red cottage is my favourite place where dreams come true, the family gathers, and love fills the air away from the school world, the drama of friends, traffic, and responsibility. Time is what we had there, a time of surprise where dreams unfold for everyone, where love comes together in one super present, ready to unwrap it takes your breath away. It wasn’t just the arrival; it was walking into the cottage that gave me a whole secure perspective. The familiar kitchen window overlooks the lake. The chair in front of the large window, my uncle, would look through his binoculars while we were in the lake swimming to make sure we didn’t pass the dock. If we did, he would wave and yell, “Come back, that’s too far!” Watching him jump up and down with his arms swaying like a tree moving to-and-fro in the wind made us giggle even more and sneak past the dock to see him do the ‘warning dance.’ We loved our Uncle Don.
Going to the bathroom was exciting because on the door was the ‘knock-knock plaque’ with a wooden hammer attached to it, to which we loved to take the hammer and knock incessantly for fun. However, it wasn’t so fun when it was my turn to use the bathroom, and my cousins would do the very same thing! The bedrooms were neatly dressed, the scent of my grandparent’s, and the orange marmalade jam smell in the kitchen I could almost taste it by memory. The colouring books stacked on the shelf and the large crayon box underneath them call me to pick them up and start colouring!
It was warm enough for a swim. My mother laid the luggage on the bed. She pulled out my favourite pink bathing suit with the buttons on the front. My sister grabbed hers already and ran down to the lake faster than fast. I was too dreamily taking in the ambiance and the curtains, the paisley flowers, the deck of cards we were going to play. The unloading of the goodies in the bag my dad brought in and set them on the counter. The fishing rods that looked so lonely lay against the wall in the corner by the door. The famous couch where all the adults sat watching our play and songs we made up for entertainment. I paused, looking into my cousin Stephen’s little bedroom window to hear the familiar birds. I missed listening to the song of the birds because, in the city, the noise drowns their music. I loved his room. We were allowed to take turns sleeping in his room, which made it exceptionally exciting when it got to be my turn. I was the youngest. In his room at night, you could hear the crickets; the rhythmic song always put me to sleep.
Then looking at the weapon that took down a blood-thirsty bat, the famous broom was standing in the corner of the hallway. I remember one evening a bat flew in the door. Everyone ran wildly all over the place. My aunt yelled, “cover your hair!”, my mother ran into the bathroom, my sister and cousins ran outside and me? I watched the fun unfold as I clung to my hair, peeking through my strands, praying the vampire bat wouldn’t suck our blood. My dad was the true hero in the story. He took the broom and our butterfly net, caught the bat, and let it go outside.
What is even more precious is when my grandmother puts the kettle on because once she starts the kettle, that means its Storytime. We sat by her feet while she shared her adventures when she was young. Then the family gathers around the table to play cards. I don’t remember the kinds of games we played. I remember my grandmother laughing so hard she accidently peed in her pants. I knew that love intertwines in memory of each of our hearts that grows inside me. Family love is shared, experienced, and transparently moves into the present and designs the future. Do you see? It isn’t just the Red Cottage I speak of; it’s the love that filled it and the love that continues to fill us.